Naked City

Man freed in (another) crime-lab fiasco

After spending 17 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, former UT-El Paso student Brandon Moon was released from prison on Dec. 21, the latest defendant on a growing list of those exonerated by modern DNA testing. Moon was convicted and sentenced to 75 years in prison for the 1987 rape of an El Paso homemaker, reports the El Paso Times. The original case against Moon was based on eyewitness testimony and DNA testing performed by the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab in Lubbock.

The New York City-based Innocence Project, co-founded by Barry Scheck, took up Moon's case earlier this year, and was instrumental in securing the testing needed to exonerate the 43-year-old. Scheck told the Times that he plans to call for an audit of all cases handled by Lubbock-based DPS serologist Glen David Adams, who left the lab in 1991. "There are serious problems across this entire country in the way crime labs do business," Scheck said. "That has to be corrected in a systematic way."

To be sure, Texas is no stranger to crime lab fiascoes. On Dec. 20, state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate's Criminal Justice Committee, announced plans to hold hearings in January into the ongoing problems in crime labs across the state – including the now-infamous Houston Police Department crime lab. "It's just sad that it's taken so long," Whitmire told the Houston Chronicle. "And one of the things we hope to accomplish in our hearings is to hold people accountable for why it's taken so long."

Also on Dec. 20, the Texas House Research Organization released a report on state oversight of crime labs – aptly titled "Should Texas Do More to Regulate Crime Labs?" See the report at www.capitol.state.tx.us/hrofr/focus/crime_lab79-2.pdf .

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